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The World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries – Punta Arenas, Chile: A Tour in 19 Photos

About a year and a half ago, CNN correspondent Bruce Holmes came up with a list of 10 of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries. Purely by happenstance I visited two on his list within 13 days of each other; the second of the pair, the municipal cemetery in Punta Arenas, Chile, just 15 days before his story was published. That’s a coincidence that’s quite likely only entertaining to me, so I’ll only add that I can’t disagree with his conclusions.

While it doesn’t quite share the scale and pomposity of the better-known La Recoleta in Buenos Aires, the public cemetery in Punta Arenas, one of the most remote larger cities in the world, doesn’t lack the splendor of its Argentine counterpart.

Walking along its well cared for streets –many lined with exquisitely-manicured European cypresses– and under the peaceful gaze of angels standing atop the many chapels and mausolea, it’s easy to forget how isolated this part of the world actually is. The feel is definitely European, in reverence perhaps to those who chose to settle in one of the world’s most isolated areas. Located near the 53rd parallel south, Punta Arenas is the southernmost larger city in Chile and one of the southernmost on the planet. A walk through the four-hectare grounds provides an instructive lesson on where those who built this far flung city came from. Of central European immigrant stock myself, that was of particular interest to me.

There was a strong mix of German, Spanish and English surnames, but I was most drawn to the multitude of Croatian names that seemed to dominate the tombs and crypts. Immigrants from Croatia began arriving in the mid-nineteenth century; by some estimates upwards of 50% of the city’s population is of Croatian descent.

Founded in 1894, the impressive main gate, portico and walls were added in 1919 while most of the ornate chapels date back to the first three decades of the 20th century.

Most visitors who wind up in Punta Arenas include the cemetery on their list of stops. To come all this way and not pay a visit would wind up on the short list of any would-be visitor’s regrets. And probably make those angels focus their glaze elsewhere.

Located on Avenida Bulnes 29, about a 20 minute walk from the city’s main plaza.

A couple more links of interest: [ Wikipedia ][ InterPatagonia Tours ]

Nineteen pics in all. Enjoy!

 

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The village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia, along the shore of Lago General Carrera

The World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries – Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile: A Tour in 22 Photos

To most who pass through, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, or simply Puerto Tranquilo, is little more than a necessary pit stop on the Carretera Austral, the highway through southern Chile that traverses 1,200 kilometers of Patagonia. If it’s known for anything, it’s for the easy access it offers to the Capillas de Marmol, a peninsula of marble caves and formations situated along Lago General Carera, the country’s largest lake. I’ll always remember it as an exceedingly difficult place to find a ride out of. And for the modest community cemetery located at its southern fringe.

Tranquil, wind-swept and weathered, the Cementario Rio Tranquilo fits the consummate definition of Patagonia. It’s also unlike any graveyard you’ve ever seen. A small village of its own, it’s comprised of a few dozen mausolea built in the shape of small houses made of clapboard and tin. Some are as small as dog houses in North America, a few as large as children’s backyard clubhouses.

The first settlers didn’t arrive in the area until the late 1920s, so the cemetery isn’t that old. But it’s rough around the edges, worn and rugged, not wholly unlike those who chose the settlement as their home, and by default, the cemetery as their final resting place. As you’ll see not all are forgotten.

Best of all is the view. Resting along its western shore, the clear turquoise waters of the lake are within both earshot and a stone’s throw. A location that’s both a monument and memorial to isolation. If I ever return, it’ll be to shoot a short film here.

Twenty-two photos in all.

 

Lago General Carrera from the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, in Chilean Patagonia

Cross at the Village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

At the village cemetery, Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, in Chilean Patagonia

Weathered rooftop over a tomb at the Village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

Inside a mausoleum at the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, in Chilean Patagonia

Inside a mausoleum at the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

Cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Cross at the Village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Patagonia, Chile

Grave at the village cemetery in Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Wooden and weathered tombs in disrepair at the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile.

Village cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia

The village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia

Fresh flowers at a tomb in the village cemetery at Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile

At the Cemetery, Rio Tranquilo, Chile

Small tombs at the village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile.

Cemetery, Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile along the shore of Lago General Carrera

The village cemetery in Puerto Rio Tranquilo in Chilean Patagonia, along the shore of Lago General Carrera

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Water Spigot, Prem Cemetery Slovenia

Prem Cemetery I

I spent most of the day in Slovenia’s southwestern Brkini hills, visiting with family, scoping out potential tent sites at the soon-to-be Camp Bob, and enjoying a couple hours at a party where I limited myself to samplings of three homemade brandies —plum, apple and pear.  The Brkini hills are plum brandy country, but in this instance it was the pear offering —Viljamovka, or Bartlett— that won the day.

I also spent a few minutes enjoying the last of the nice early evening light at the cemetery in the village of Prem where I snapped today’s Pic du Jour, the 139th (!) straight. Like most village cemeteries, it’s quite modest but very well kept. The attention to detail in remarkable, down to the design of the water tap. More images from the cemetery forthcoming.

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The World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries – La Recoleta, Buenos Aires: A Tour in 32 Photos

Last year a CNN correspondent listed la Recoleta among the world’s 10 most beautiful cemeteries. As pomposity, style and grandeur go, the final resting place for many of Argentina’s most rich and powerful who passed on over the past two centuries is difficult to beat. And it is also beautiful. Here is a gallery of 32 photos to prove my point.

Inaugurated in November 1822, the cemetery since named for the affluent neighborhood in Buenos Aires in which it rests has grown to 5.5 hectares (14 acres) in size and to contain 4,691 vaults, many of them ornately decorated and intricately sculpted.

The main streets are pleasantly tree-lined, evoking a not-so-far away eternal spring, or less ethereally, a relaxing big city park where it’s easy to escape the hubbub that is just outside the walls that seal the cemetery in. I was fortunate to have my two-hour stroll around the grounds interrupted by a refreshing summer rain; there really is no better time to visit with the ivy-bathed marble gods and goddesses in South America’s most famous necropolis. [See a 30-second video of the la Recoleta rains here.]

Continue reading…

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At La Recoleta Cemetery, Part II

I posted a photo from La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires once before –and am working on a longer post culled from my manuscript research– but want to post this one now, fitting as it is for eerie, the theme for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge. Cemeteries are a joy during and after a rain, no?

This doesn’t strike me as much eerie as it does ghostly, with the raindrop falling like a tear from the young woman’s cold, hard eye. For a few moments, I was expecting to hear a faint wail. That would have been eerie. :)

Photo snapped on 23-Jan-2013

Today..

..is the topic for this week’s WordPress photo theme. Today was a day off so my theme was rest and relaxation.The lone exception was a two-hour bike ride in late afternoon when I pondered Vagabonding, a book I reread today, and when I crossed paths with these dudes at Ljubljana’s ‪Ž‬ale cemetery. Check out the guy below. Have you ever seen an angel with a broken thumb?